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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

3,650 replies on “The Bistro”

So glad you let the Bistro friends know that things went well, Millie. I’ve been sending good thoughts your way today and before. I’ve been following you all, wishing you well, and mentally speaking to you through days and nights!

Still many Mom fires to put out and I find it hard to find words when I get to my iPad, but I have felt your presence and support. Thank you.

My husband, sons, daughters-in-laws, grandchildren are fine; that keeps me constantly grateful.

I loved rereading the three Helene Hanff books I own and just received Q’s Legacy and The Storied Life of A. J. Fiery, on your recommendations. Listening to Louise Penny’s books for the _____th time and loving them. So much to think about, such good laughs, such human understanding. And I feel like I see the character development more clearly and more as a continuum each time I listen to them, book to book to book, the long house, as Gamache says, I think.

Oh, and Anna, I reread The Cove and enjoyed it even more on second reading, more relaxed. Hoping that you will publish your second book soon. Hint! I’m having fun reading your short story too, keep it coming!

Best thought to you all.

Thanks Barbara. Eye issues plague almost everyone in some form or another. Working today but hopefully some more story before I make a quick trip to Texas tomorrow to see my sister. Be gone a few days but might not get much story done.

Its good to hear Carol has made progress Barbara. Good on you for staying positive when you are frustrated. I know how that can be!
Cataract surgery has comeca long long way even in the last ten years. Takes but minutes and I know Millie will be fine but understand her anxiety. Like me with planes.

Thanks, Anna. Yes I’m sure you do. You mentioned that the big 3 eye diseases are in your family.
Maybe by the time they are a threat to you, treatment will be much better. It is very frustrating to be told new glasses won’t help. I seem to have smudges on my glasses all the time. Trying to see through all that doesn’t help. In March, I think, I see the Dr and will get new glasses. Same prescription but lenses that are suppose to be smudge proof. Really ?
Whoops! Not Australian First People but African. The name was so strange to me I made the assumption. Which reminds me how limited my knowledge of Australia’s population of today is. Another gap in my knowledge. One of the many subjects this group has inspired me to learn about.
Looking forward to the next installment of your short story. Reminds me of the days when Magazines carried serializations. I was always anxious for the next installment

Julie, I do enjoy hearing about your Jane Austen Society as it sounds like they are loads of fun. The Mice are just too cute.

Millie, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I’ll think of you often tomorrow. It is wonderful that cataract surgery has improved since I was a child. The patient had o remain flat on the bed with Blocks on either side of the head to keep it immobile. I couldn’t have had the surgery under those restrictions. Panic would have over taken me at the mere thought. Almost easy peasey now.
Hugs and calm thoughts to you.

Nerve gas, the G series, was developed by the Germans in WW2 although mustard gas had been around since the 1800s and was used in WW1. Not a nerve gas but chemical warfare.

Thanks for the info, Anna. Now, I better read your short story from the beginning because unlike Julie, I’ve NO idea who could have ‘done it’. I’ve an hour and a half to indulge in reading before Downton Abby.

Downton Abbey is really great this year I think. The costumes are as wonderful as ever and I’m enjoying the way the story is going except for Carson’s and Barrow’s. If I were Mrs Hughes-Carson, I think I would have to stand up to Mr. Carson and explain the difference from our jobs and our home life. I hope Barrow doesn’t become a suicide. I want everyone to have a good life.
Just watched the recording of last night’s Rosemary and Thyme. Saw series a few years ago and just loved it. Carol and I watched it last night but I didn’t mind watching it again just now.
Yes. Last week Carol, my sister, suggested we watch it. I told her we could change channels if she felt she needed to. She liked it and we watched last night too. It’s been over 4 years since she could watch anything where someone died. Since her husband’s death. Maybe she can make some progress towards a normal life still. I’ve never given up hope. Though sometimes it is very hard not to just scream.

I know just what you mean, Barbara – I could slap Mr. Carson, but a few people seem to be setting him straight, including the Earl last night! Good for him, and good for him for caring at least a little about Edith’s feelings. If you haven’t watched the latest episode yet – SPOILER ALERT. You wouldn’t BELIEVE the things I called Mary last night after she ruined her sister’s chances for happiness (for the third time, I believe – she has ruined every single one of Edith’s chances to marry)! I know Edith ought to have told her fella, but for heavens’ sakes – I think she would have soon enough on her own.

But I do love this show and will miss it terribly when it’s gone. Thank heavens we will have a new Gamache this year – when these things stop, I take it all too much to heart, hahaha.

Julie, I thought nerve gas was used during the Vietnam war, not WWII… But my knowledge of ‘wars’ is very poor, by necessity. Seeing violence or massive deaths on a screen equals nausea and panic attacks. Reading about it is not much easier. But if it was a gas used during or after Vietnam then one of the characters might know about it?

Well, of course, my knowledge is spotty at best and of course, half the time what I know for sure is wrong. Doesn’t stop me from being sure, though, hahaha. Nerve gas, mustard gas, it’s all the same to me.

I’m pretty okay about seeing the bloody, gory things, but I still can’t see something that has someone being unfaithful. It still brings up all my feelings from my first marriage. I can’t imagine how long it might be before I could watch something in which somebody dies if that had happened to me. That said, I love Rosemary and Thyme – they’re such lovely, light stories. I especially liked the last year, when they must have had a bigger budget, and all the gardens seemed to be in Europe. Just to see the gardens was reason enough to watch. And now I’m immersed in the latest episodes of Miss Fisher.

Millie – the lemon meringue pie on the Night is a Strawberry blog looks intriguing. I’m surprised at the shortcut she takes with the lime curd, though – I’ve only once followed along with people to use condensed milk to make caramel, and it was so awful I threw it all out. But I AM going to try her trick of using brown sugar in the meringue.

Hmmmm – I have more clues in my mind… but I’ll be a good girl and set it in my list rather than ask here now… Now that I’ve read it, though, it’s clear it wasn’t nerve gas from WWII but something quite new… So interesting – I wonder who’s on the cutting edge?

I was heartened to hear the obituary of Harper Lee on TV that spent very little time on Go Set a Watchman and didn’t talk at all about the controversy surrounding it’s being published. I was so worried that after all her deserving life, she’d be remembered for being a foolish old woman who was talked into something by her publicist. So glad she got the respect she deserved. At least on our TV – haven’t read anything that’s been written, and don’t think I will. I prefer to remember her as a giant among writers.

I requested The Storied Life from the Library after reading Millie’s and Anna’s posts. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society right after it came out and liked it very much. I’ll get right to The Storied Life when it is available.
I’m also glad we discussed Go Set A Watchman. The newspapers actually found space for lengthy articles about Harper Lee. The news seems to consist of politics only so I was a little surprised Lee was given a large amount of space. Deserving though she was.

I would like to read it but it is not available on kindle in Australia for some reason. The reviews compared it to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I enjoyed. I am intriguesd and want to read The Storied Life now!

Barbara, Julie, you both made me laugh. Barbara, when I was pregnant with my first son I used to bake lemon merengue pies, crust from scratch even, at least once a week! It kept me from getting morning sickness. It’s still my favorite pie. Guess I’ve been practicing finding the bright side to things for a very long time.
Thank you for the laughs, the hugs and holding my hand. I feel loved and surrounded by positivity.

I just finished listening to a fascinating book called “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabielle Zevin. I was going to listen to one mentioned in The Night is a Strawberry blog, but the sample narration was so bad I looked at the reviews and someone suggested The Storied Life… was a better story. It was published in 2014. Has anyone read it? It has a most unusual point of view, but though odd sounding at first, it works. Several years ago I would have hated the ending, but now I found it very satisfying. It’s about the life of an independent book store owner in a small island up north. He’s a widower who has lost his desire to live, but life conspires to give him many reasons to keep living and in doing so he has a tremendous impact on the little community. I know it isn’t for everyone but it is short and I’d love to know how others felt about it.

I forgot to say that I was sad to hear of Harper Lee passing although she had lived a long life. Glad we got to debate Go Set A Watchman.

Morgan sighed. The Inspector was forcing him into the big reveal before he was ready.
“I went to a clinical presentation at a conference a couple of years ago. The mysterious case revolved around a man who committed suicide with a novel and unknown nerve agent. The body was found almost immediately by an assistant who heard a noise as the dying man fell from his chair. The first medics on the scene commented on the stiff limbs and signs of pulmonary oedema. It is not a common set of findings and most nerve agents cause muscles to relax not become rigid. As even you plods know, immediately after death the body is typically in a state of flaccidity. Rigor doesn’t usually set in for at least two hours and even then it affects areas like the eyelids, jaw and neck first. The limbs don’t become involved until later.”
Robbie Fox was thoughtful. “Anything else which could cause the stiffness? Other than this mysterious nerve agent and I need to know more about that in a minute.”
“Bodies exposed to high temperatures, above 65 degrees centigrade, or low temperatures can be rigid at time of death. There is also cadaveric spasm which may occur in the case of some violent deaths. Muscles that were held tightly contracted before death don’t always relax into flaccidity. It is most common in one group of muscles like a hand tightly holding a gun before a suicide, although I have heard that occasionally in traumatic deaths, soldiers who die in war for example, the whole body can spasm. That doesn’t account for the pulmonary oedema. It is the combination that made me wonder.”
“When you say nerve agent, I am presuming you mean something like Sarin, but that isn’t that a gas?”
“Similar idea. Most of the organophosphate based nerve agents are volatile liquids that turn into gases at low temperatures but they are also lethal as liquids, say if they splash onto the skin or are ingested, which is what happened in this case. The effects of ingestion are fairly rapid and the victim was alone with a glass of scotch when he died. The agent was found in the scotch and the victim’s blood. Incidentally the assistant had poured himself a glass of scotch from the same bottle that night and he was fine and tests on the bottle came back negative for toxins. It was, therefore, presumed that the dead man added the agent to the scotch some time after his assistant left the room which was on the second floor of a very secure estate. Nobody else was in the house and the security system was on.”
“The assistant could have done it.”
“The presenter was asked the same question and it turns out the assistant was on his computer chatting via video link to his book club. Six members gave him an alibi for the entire hour preceding the victim’s demise.”
Robbie Fox digested the tale Morgan was spinning. It was a Christiesque locked room mystery. If, as Morgan suspected, a similar agent was responsible for the death of Ms Purdue she had to have ingested it minutes before dying, presumably from her water bottle. The problem was she had been drinking from the bottle all morning with no ill effects and by all accounts she had been seated alone, so how had her bottle been tampered with? And there was another obvious question.
“Where did this mysterious toxin come from?”

You are a wonderfully positive person Millie and I know you will sail through on Monday….sail being an unexpected pirate reference! I will be thinking of you and sending loads of calming thoughts.
The story is not a burden people. I love having the distraction. Dad is much better today so I can relax a little.
Sorry to disappoint Barbara but Morgan is of African descent. I suspect this story may have an English setting because of the castle reference. They are a little thin on the ground in Australia but there was a very castellic building near where I grew up in the country that was a boys home for a while. On the other point I think you are right. There will be a complex background to this mystery. I mean, Evangeline is annoying but that usually warrants a quick bop on the head in a fit of a rage at having to listen to her droning on about her family or some new complaint. Why the nerve gas? Frankly I have to keep writing as I want to know too!

I’m lost! I type and the moment I press post comment there are a half a dozen new comments above mine. Nerve gas? Are people leaving comments on previous pages? Or was that a reference to what was coming?
Arrrggghhh. 😉
Anna, loved your sailing reference. You all are wonderful. Oh wait, that sounded Southern, not piratey at all. HeeHee

Oh dear Millie, I put that comment before I posted the section mentioning the nerve gas. My fault, you are not confused.

Well, I am, hahahaha! No, I see what you mean – I haven’t read the last bit yet – but am assuming the very specific symptoms you gave Evangeline must be pointing to nerve gas. So who has access to nerve gas? I’m betting that would be hard to come by these days, hahaha. I am so loving this story!

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